A racist email that prompted the South Portland schools’ diversity, equity and inclusion coordinator to resign last week was written by a known white supremacist in New Hampshire.

Ryan Murdough both signed the email and introduced himself as the founder of the New England White Network, according to a copy of the message provided to the Press Herald on Wednesday in response to a Freedom of Access Act request.

“White people in Maine don’t appreciate what you are trying to do in (South) Portland,” he wrote in the Dec. 29 message. “You are making people hate you. Do you really think you’re going to be able to pull this off and have people like it?”

He called Mohammed Albehadli several racist slurs and told him to “Go back to the Middle East where you belong.” Albehadli is from Iraq and has lived in the U.S. for 10 years, six in Maine.

Murdough has been involved with a range of white supremacist groups, including Northeast White Pride, National Socialist American Labor Party, New Hampshire Nationalists and the American Third Position Party. He ran unsuccessfully for a New Hampshire Statehouse seat in 2010 as a Republican, according to the Anti-Defamation League. He is active on Gab, a social networking website that is popular with white nationalists, where he posts racist, homophobic and antisemitic language.

He has sent similarly racist and degrading emails to others in the greater Portland area, including Portland City Councilor Victoria Pelletier.


His email to Albehadli did not reference any specific actions or programs Albehadli had taken on as DEI director, a role he held for more than a year before he resigned Friday. However, the message included a link to a recent Gab post he made sharing a Maine Wire article that quoted Albehadli speaking about the South Portland school district’s plan to increase diversity and equity in its elementary schools.

In the email, Murdough called the initiative an effort to “force” white kids to go to school with kids of other races.

Albehadli resigned in response to the email and said he plans to leave Maine.

“This message raised safety concerns for my family and I,” said Albehadli. “We could not feel safe again after receiving it.”

In interviews this week, Albehadli said he has received other racist messages and comments, but he felt it was important to bring attention to this one because it caused him enough concern to leave a job and community he says he loved.

In a statement Wednesday, Murdough said he felt compelled to send the email because “someone has to stand up for the interests of White kids.” He went on to use more racist language and said diversity makes communities worse.

White supremacy is on the rise in Maine and New England, according to a report released last year by the Anti-Defamation League. White supremacist activity increased by 50% in Maine and 96% in New England over the course of one year.

The South Portland School Department has said it turned the email over to police to investigate.

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